So you get inspired by the pictures online and want to start a new aquascape but when rubber hits the road, you find yourself a little discouraged and searching for answers. I was there, you might be there, heck, even the pros are trying to improve their craft every day. The people who made the scapes you see on Instagram or the internet have nothing that you don’t so go for it!
I want to tell you what I did to turn my scape from average, to great:
Three Steps to Aquascape a Freshwater Aquarium
1. Go in with a plan
Of course, one scape is never going to look like another, but going in with a plan will make every process so much more simple. I will use the pictures above for reference. The first scape I didn’t even know I was going to go all out for a planted tank. I had SAND for Pete’s sake, nothing else. No root tabs, no fertilizer, not even C02! Clearly, my planning for plants was skewed so if you’re planning to maintain a healthy planted tank I would make sure you have at the bare minimum a healthy planted substrate. I use Prodibio because of how clean it is, rich nutrient content, and releases zero ammonia. I would also take into consideration what type of plants you’d like to keep because they require different levels of light and C02. If you go with low light plants such as swords, anubias, and crypts, you will be safe. If you want to keep different types of rotala or staurogyne you might want to use C02 to have a lush look.
That is one part of the planning
The next step I would consider is to go after a certain look. You can find a picture on the internet or look at some cool Instagram profiles like @danktanks, @aquawerk, or @thecinescaper. Looking at different scapes will give you an idea of positioning your hardscape and where/what plants you want to add. Take your time, sit back and make sure you are satisfied before you start planting.
2. Use Focal Points
Use a feature from your hardscape to make a highlight in your aquarium. A certain cut from rock, plant, wood, or even a path formation. Whatever it is that will capture your eye when you look at the scape. This will make it easier for your eye to take in the whole picture of what’s going on in your aquarium. If you don’t have a focal point or too many for that matter, your eyes will be wandering around. Aquascaping is art. Art is subjective and can be interpreted in many ways. There is no set rule on a focal point and rules are meant to be broken. Some scapes have more than 1 focal point but whatever your approach is, remember that the more simple, the better.
3. Use the Same Type of Rock and/or Wood
In nature, you won’t see more than one type of rock or wood in one area. It seems fit to use the same principle in the aquarium. Ideally, you want everything to be visually appealing and if you were to mix Manzanita wood with Malaysian wood, it?d be a confusing, unnatural look. Try to mix up the sizes of the stones and wood and play around until you are satisfied.
I hope these tips find you well, they sure helped me when I was starting out!
Written by Salvatore Brinker